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Fish oil improves anxiety-like, depressive-like and cognitive behaviors in olfactory bulbectomised rats



Depression is increasingly present in the population, and its pathophysiology and treatment have been investigated with several animal models, including olfactory bulbectomy (Obx). Fish oil (FO) supplementation during the prenatal and postnatal periods decreases depression-like and anxiety-like behaviors. The present study evaluated the effect of FO supplementation on Obx-induced depressive-like behavior and cognitive impairment. Female rats received supplementation with FO during habituation, mating, gestation, and lactation, and their pups were subjected to Obx in adulthood; after the recovery period, the adult offspring were subjected to behavioral tests, and the hippocampal levels of brain-derived neurotrophic factor (BDNF), serotonin (5-HT) and the metabolite 5-hydroxyindoleacetic (5-HIAA) were determined. Obx led to increased anxiety-like and depressive-like behaviors, and impairment in the object location task. All behavioral changes were reversed by FO supplementation. Obx caused reductions in the levels of hippocampal BDNF and 5-HT, whereas FO supplementation restored these levels to normal values. In control rats, FO increased the hippocampal level of 5-HT and reduced that of 5-HIAA, indicating low 5-HT metabolism in this brain region. The present results indicate that FO supplementation during critical periods of brain development attenuated anxiety-like and depressive-like behaviors and cognitive dysfunction induced by Obx. These results may be explained by increased levels of hippocampal BDNF and 5-HT, two major regulators of neuronal survival and long-term plasticity in this brain structure.